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Which Arguments Encourage for Practicing in Rural Areas?

DOI: 10.3238/zfa.2015.0154-0159

Ergebnisse eines Workshops mit angehenden Hausärzten

german translation / full article

Martin Tauscher, Marco Roos, Moritz Maenner, Dagmar Schneider, Susann Schaffer

Keywords: Lack of Family Practitioners Rural Areas Recruitment Campaign Design

Results of a Workshop with Family Practitioner Trainees

Background: In Germany, lack of family practitioners threatens health care. Previous surveys on the question of how to recruit young professionals did not offer final recommendations. The situation is difficult particularly in rural areas. The present study performed a qualitative exploration of young family practitioner trainees’ motivation for setting up a practice in rural areas.

Methods: During two vocational training workshops hosted by the KoStA (center for family medicine in Bavaria), 43 young family medicine trainees were asked to design a virtual publicity campaign. It should motivate medical trainees for working as a family practitioner in rural areas. The participants were allocated to small teams. They were asked to develop a slogan and between three and five core elements of their virtual campaign. The results of the teams were then discussed in the plenum. After assigning codes by two independent scientists, final categories have been agreed.

Results: Irrespective of the preferred area for the future practice (urban vs. rural), the participants expressed the same arguments for a practice in rural areas. The positive arguments identified were associated with professional aspects, like better frame conditions and diversified job content. Private aspects were adressed to the same extent, important themes were cheaper living conditions, family-friendly surroundings, living in the open air and life satisfaction. During the subsequent discussion disadvantages were also brought up: Cutback of privacy, perceived permanent availability or pressure of work, and fear of overextended expertise. Furthermore, it turned out that almost 70 % (n = 29) of the participants in the study could imagine setting up a practice in rural areas.

Conclusions: The aspects considered as positive by the participants correspond greatly with the experience of already practicing family doctors. However, the barriers mentioned include serious fears, future family doctors are afraid of running a single-handed practice. The ideal campaign should therefore emphasize the advantages of the life of a country doctor, but should also include the fears brought up. It should deliver information and emotion at the same time. Future family practitioners should be informed comprehensively on new developments concerning the framework of practicing.


(State: 17.04.2015)

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